A day in the life of predictive analytics

All around the world, businesses are turning to independent software vendors, system integrators and service providers like you to help them make better decisions using predictive analytics.

The differences that analytics can make in traditional corporate environments are well-documented. But have you considered just how far those functions are reaching? And just how profound an impact they’re having on people’s everyday lives?

For a few minutes, put yourself into the shoes of an average person, in a regular job on a perfectly normal day. Doesn’t sound like they’re going to have much involvement with predictive analytics on the face of things, does it?

Think again.

 

7:00am

You’re woken by the buzzing of your alarm clock so you can start getting ready for work. You open the curtains to see that it’s very windy outside, as your town is getting caught by the edges of a storm system.

You’d normally cycle to work, but you’ve already arranged to carpool with a colleague, because you saw the storm warning for today on the weather forecast several days ago. But how were you able to plan ahead so accurately?

Put simply, it’s because the combination of predictive analytics and Big Data makes weather forecasting more accurate than it’s ever been. Analytics tools like IBM Watson can process billions of pieces of data, sourced from touchpoints ranging from airline flights to weather sensors, so that you know the weather that’s coming, when it’s coming and how to protect yourself.

 

8:30am

Your kind colleague is giving you a lift, but with the weather conditions difficult, the traffic starts building up. He asks you to use your smartphone to see if you can find an alternative route, because you’re both in a big meeting at 9:15 and you don’t want to be late.

So you log onto the mapping app on your phone, and you find an alternative route suggested for you that’s claimed to be ten minutes quicker. Sure enough, it works and you both arrive on time. How?

Well, we’re all familiar with live monitoring of traffic patterns so that we can avoid congestion when it’s occurring. But thanks to predictive analytics, heavy traffic can now be regularly pre-empted through the assessment of mobile phone data, previous traffic patterns, population data and more, in combination with advanced algorithms.

And not only will that get you and your colleague to work quicker, it’ll help make your town a nicer place to live, thanks to the environmental benefits derived from more fuel-efficient traffic flows.

 

1:00pm

You’ve had a good morning at work and your big meeting went very well. You’re now relaxing at your desk with your lunch, reading the online previews for the big soccer game in town tonight. You remember that winter’s coming and you need to get some new lights for your bike, so you can keep riding to work when it’s dark.

You find a really good deal for some lights, from an online retailer you haven’t shopped with before. It seems legit, so you put in your payment and shipping details. But what makes sure that your personal details aren’t going to be intercepted and used for malicious means?

With digital fraud and cybercrime operations getting more and more sophisticated by the day, analytics is helping countless businesses stay one step ahead. Through analysing masses of data, both structured and unstructured, predictive models can detect anomalous patterns and traits that point to criminal and fraudulent activity – before it can have an impact.

 

5:30pm

After work, your colleague drops you off at home (again avoiding the worst of the rush-hour traffic), and you immediately head to your local doctor’s surgery. You were suffering from a virus a couple of weeks ago, and although you thought you’d be clear of it by now, you’re still not feeling 100%.

So you go and speak to your doctor about the problem, and she cuts straight in with one question:

“Did you complete your course of antibiotics?”

You feel slightly embarrassed and admit that you stopped taking them five or six days ago.

“I know,” comes the doctor’s reply. But how does she know?

Through developments in predictive analytics that are now beginning to emerge, the health system she uses can digest everything it knows about you, the virus you’re suffering from and the kind of medicine you’re taking. From that data, it can predict whether or not you’re likely to finish the prescribed antibiotics, and suggest the best way for the doctor to intervene and get you to carry on.

She could have called you to ask about it, but she knew you had made an appointment and knew you were busy at work, so thought it was best to talk to you about it face-to-face.

 

8:00pm

You’ve returned home, had dinner and now you can really enjoy yourself. Tonight, you’ve got tickets for you and your flatmate to watch your local soccer team, and you call a cab and head to the stadium.

They’re up against opposition that are placed higher in the league, but a dominant performance by your heroes delivers a comfortable 3-0 win. The result went against all the score predictions in the previews you’d read at lunchtime, so how were they able to do so well against their theoretically stronger rivals?

That’s because your team’s head coach used machine learning and predictive analytics to model how the opposition was going to play. A long-established factor in more regimented sports like baseball, analytics can now offer insights on player positioning and habits in more fluid sports like soccer and basketball.

And through the tactical info he uncovered, the coach was able to train his players to attack the opposition defence at its weakest points, so that they could take more shots and, ultimately, score three times.

 

At the end of the day, what can we learn?

Well, this is just a sample of the wide scope predictive analytics already has in our lives, and is by no means an exhaustive list. So what’s the relevance for providing organisations like you?

It means that just about every single business and industry you can think of is a potential client that could grow with predictive analytics. It opens the door for some truly innovative applications of predictive analytics within your offerings, so that you can help your clients add an extra dimension to their business operations and customer relationships.

So if you expand your horizons and grow your business beyond your established marketplaces, then there’s a practically limitless world of profitable opportunities out there for you to explore.

Just don’t forget to set your alarm clock.

Whatever your client’s business or target market, you can help them make better decisions faster with the power of cognitive and embedded analytics, in partnership with IBM.

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